Hugh le Despenser I

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Arms of Despencer: Quarterly 1st & 4th: Argent; 2nd & 3rd: Gules, a fret or, over all a ribbon sable

Sir Hugh le Despenser (died 1238) was a wealthy landowner in the East Midlands of England, and served as High Sheriff of Berkshire.

He was probably the son of a Thomas Despencer, and brother to both Thomas, who died before October 1218, and Rohaise, who married Stephen de Segrave. It is said that he married a daughter of Saer de Quincy (died 1219) and Margaret de Beaumont (died 1234). Hugh and his unidentified wife probably had at least three children: Pernell, who married Geoffrey Savage; an unknown daughter, who married Roger St. John; and Hugh le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despencer (died 1265).

He was a descendant of a noble family who came to England from the same location as William the Conqueror and at the same time. This family, surnamed De Albetot, became William's Stewards. Sir Hugh was appointed High Sheriff of Staffordshire and Shropshire in 1222 and High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1226 and 1238.

He held eleven manors in England: in Leicestershire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Rutland. He is reported to have been instrumental in the repairs of 1232 to Porchester Castle in Hampshire, a site first used by third-century Romans. Sir Hugh had this ever-evolving castle updated to include a new forebuilding to the keep and portcullises for the gatehouses, and completed repairs to the wall and hall.

Among his descendants were the infamous Despensers who became favourites of Edward II.

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